Feeds

Networked radar barrage balloons pass milestone

Poor man's defence against poor man's missile

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

US-based weapons globocorp Raytheon was pleased yesterday to announce a successful Critical Design Review for its planned flotilla of cruise-missile-busting network spyeye barrage balloons.

Raytheon prefer to call the digital blimp barrier system JLENS, for Joint Land attack cruise missile defense Elevated Netted Sensor system. The idea is to put radars and communications gear high in the sky aboard moored aerostats. This will allow the sensors to peer down and spot low-flying enemies - such as cruise missiles - while they are still below the horizon for normal groundbound radars. The comms would also provide line-of-sight over much larger areas, offering improved network bandwidth for US ground force in the balloons' footprint.

Apparently the US Army, sponsors of the JLENS idea, are chuffed as can be.

"JLENS is moving forward," said Lt Col Stephen Willhelm of the US Army Program Executive Office for Missiles and Space. "The JLENS design review ... reaffirms our continued confidence that this critical cruise missile defense capability is on track."

Elements of the US military are concerned about the worldwide proliferation of low-flying, cruise missile type threats - perhaps as basic as a suicide-piloted light aircraft stuffed with homemade explosives. There are already ways to defend against these - for instance an AWACS radar plane can detect such targets from afar, and US fighters can then easily destroy them. But AWACS and fighters are pricey, even more so when you consider their limited endurance and the need to provide a large fleet in order to guarantee continued airborne watch. By contrast, JLENS balloons are cheap and can stay up for thirty days at a stretch.

In addition to comms and detection of cruise missiles, Raytheon say that the JLENS balloon-radars will be able to track ground targets just as airborne roboplanes and surveillance craft can. The company even suggests that JLENS will be able to track bigger artillery munitions - such as "large caliber rockets" - in flight.

The balloons themselves won't be armed, though one type will carry a fire-control radar. Rather, they will pass targeting information to other weapon systems such as Patriot missile batteries.

India has already deployed Israeli-made aerostat radars, in order to guard against possible low-flying air raids by the Tamil Tiger improvised rebel air force in Sri Lanka. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft
674 days in space for US Air Force's mystery orbital vehicle
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
Human spacecraft dodge COMET CHUNKS pelting off Mars
Odyssey orbiter yet to report, though - comet's trailing trash poses new threat
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.